The last thing a student at Ryerson’s RTA School of Media expected was for his indie-rock band, Aukland, to be part of the Rogers Hometown Hockey Tour. Even more unexpected for him was to have people singing along.
“We had never been to these cities before. We would show up and there would be people who knew our music and the lyrics. That was totally foreign to us,” said 22-year-old Dave Setton, drummer of Aukland and a fourth-year school of media student. “It’s a really, really cool feeling.”
The Hometown Hockey Tour is a Canada-wide initiative sponsored by Rogers that brings big NHL names — sports commenters, NHL alumni, local hockey heroes — to small, hockey-crazed cities. Having started the Hometown Hockey Tour in December, the Mississauga-based, four-piece band is now heading into the final stretch. Their next stop is Kanata, Ont., on April 4 and 5.
Just before the tour, Aukland’s single, Doing It Right, was featured in the Hometown Hockey Tour opening montage, and brought in new listeners, as well as a shout-out from George Stroumboulopoulos.
“(Doing it Right) isn’t the official song, but we timed it to go along with the Hometown Hockey Tour,” says Setton. “It really worked in our favour, especially image-wise. It makes us look more official.”But for Aukland — a band trying to make it in the music industry — all these moves are strategic.
What Setton calls “just the right time and just the right place,” is also what got them on the bill for their first mini-tour with Tokyo Police Club and Hollerado early last year.
Though he says their fan base is still “in its infancy,” with about 1,200 likes on Facebook, getting some exposure with the Hometown Hockey Tour has increased their numbers. As for the tour, Setton says the “best part is seeing people we don’t know who know us. It’s a really awesome feeling.”
Now having played as Aukland for over a year and a half, the band sees the need to brand itself as being Mississauga-based and not Toronto-based.
“The thing is, if you’re a Toronto band, you’re in such a saturated market. You don’t feel the same connection. Whereas if you’re from Mississauga – and a lot of our friends and fans are – and we live in Toronto, there’s a bit of a hometown connection there,” Setton said over the phone.
Aukland recently finished recording its first, full-length studio album, Rookie. But as most members of the band are students, it hasn’t been an easy process. Jeff Campana, guitarist and engineering student at McMaster University, sold his textbooks to help pay for recording. Setton has been trying to manage his time between the band and an internship at radio station Indie 88.
“It’s been four f***ing insane years for all of us. But I know that for all of us, this is a priority.” said Setton. “This is what we want to do. If something comes up, we just got to do it. Whether it’s school or whatever, it’s a sacrifice that you have to make.”